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Plomondon Tells Conference SmartPay a Winner for Government and Taxpayers

As prepared for delivery

Leslie Plomondon
Region 8 Regional Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
10th Annual GSA SmartPay Training Conference
Denver, CO
July 22, 2008


Thank you very much.

Good morning, and welcome to the SmartPay Training Conference.  As you all know, GSA provide goods, services and workspace at best value to our sister agencies so they can focus on their core missions.

SmartPay is a great example. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the government-wide GSA SmartPay Program and the end of its first generation of contracts.  This conference presents a great opportunity to reflect back and celebrate all we’ve accomplished together, and for my friend and colleague, David Shea, Director, GSA Office of Charge Card Management, to discuss next steps and beyond.

GSA Smartpay represents the best in government thanks to a win-win relationship with industry.  The government benefited by leveraging streamlined commercial purchase and payment processes while industry captured additional transaction activity. And of course as GSA’s chief environmental officer I appreciate that the program provides agencies with an efficient, cost effective, and eco-friendly way to procure products and services then traditional paper-based procurement methods.

GSA SmartPay is the world’s largest charge card program.  Through April of fiscal 2008, we’ve recorded:

  • $16.4 billion in sales volume for the purchase, travel, and fleet card;
  • Over 57 million purchase, travel, and fleet card transactions;
  • There are over three million cards in circulation, including more than two million travel cards, 300,000 purchase cards, and nearly 700,000 fleet cards, and;
  • More than 350 government agencies and tribal organizations – that’s right – more than 350! – all participate in the GSA SmartPay Program.

You know, I’m not sure how many know how the name “GSA SmartPay” was selected. Years ago, two former GSA senior managers -- Bill Gormley and Sue Mclver -- wanted a name that reflected well on the customers using charge cards, because they clearly understood that this was a smart, efficient way to pay for supplies and services.  As a result, “GSA SmartPay” was born.  Their thinking was prophetic.  Here are a few statistics from over the past decade that dramatize just how smart you, our customers, have been. Our winning stats include:

  • Almost $1 billion in agency refunds;
  • More than 748 million transactions (think of the paper not used and the trees that were spared!);
  • More than $200 billion spent in support of mission delivery;
  • And, if we assume a conservative 50 dollars in savings per transaction versus conventional procurement methods, the purchase card alone helped the agencies avoid more than 37 billion dollars in administrative processing costs.

Charge card management information and control systems have evolved significantly from humble beginnings.

We’ve had five fine banks providing card services to the government:

  • Bank of America;
  • Citibank;
  • JPMorgan Chase;
  • Mellon, and;
  • U.S. Bank.

Without these contractor banks, GSA SmartPay would not have developed into this tremendous success story. I thank them for their service.  Based upon past GSA surveys, 90 percent of our customer agencies were either “satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with the services these organizations provide.  Those scores are truly impressive.

Two of the banks will not be processing transactions beyond the end of this November:  Bank of America and Mellon.  We wish both well in their future business pursuits, and welcome three incumbents – Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, and U.S. Bank -- back as participants in the successor GSA SmartPay 2 program.

I want to say that we at GSA also value our partnership with you, our customers, and promise to continue to make this excellent program even better over the next 10 years!  Proof of this commitment is clear given our continuing work on your behalf regarding a range of issues including:  tax levy, payment withholding, and electronic access systems security.

While this will be my last GSA SmartPay conference, I know the program is well positioned to meet your organizations’ needs well into the future.  But I’ll let David Shea talk to you further about that in a few minutes. 

I hope it’s clear that we’re determined to keep GSA SmartPay functioning at a world-class level. The reason that’s important should be obvious. This program provides our government with an effective and efficient tool for supporting purchase, travel and vehicle fleet operations. Our goal is streamlined, best practice processes that are consistent with private industry standards.

The program has grown considerably over the past decade because of its many benefits, and because of widespread support from the executive and legislative branches, as well as the bank and merchant communities. There aren’t many programs that can claim such broad support.
 
Enjoy the conference, thanks for coming, and thank you very much for your attention this morning.